Fla. school likely named for Mourning over Reno

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno appears to
have lost in an unlikely matchup with former NBA star Alonzo
Mourning.

A committee charged with deciding what to call a new high school
in North Miami was considering naming it after one of the two, and
last week chose the athlete and his wife.

The recommendation was forwarded to the Miami-Dade School Board,
which will vote Wednesday whether to approve the Alonzo and Tracy
Mourning Senior High School Biscayne Bay Campus as the school's
name.

Mourning was a star for the Miami Heat, but it was the work he
and his wife have done in local schools, including mentoring, that
spurred the nomination. School board member Martin Karp proposed
the Mournings after two students suggested them. Reno's and
Mourning's names were the last two considered out of about a dozen
possibilities.

"They've spent more than a decade contributing directly to
Miami-Dade County public schools in various ways," he said. "When
you look at what they've done together, it's directly impacted
children."

All but one of the other three committee members sided with Karp
in naming the school for the Mournings. The former mayor of North
Miami, Kevin Burns, opposed it, having proposed Reno.

Burns, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by
Sen. Mel Martinez, said the City Council in North Miami passed a
resolution more than two years ago supporting naming the school for
Reno. He was hopeful the board would turn down the Mourning
proposal.

"If you had to compare Janet Reno's career to his career and if
you picked a sports figure over an attorney general of the United
States, what kind of message does that send to children?" he
asked. "There's too many other people in the community that have
given decades and decades in time and effort and money."

Reno was the longtime Miami-Dade state attorney before becoming
the country's first female attorney general. She lives in the Miami
suburb of Kendall.

Many in South Florida's large Cuban-American population disagree
with her order to return 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to his father in
Cuba in 2000. Karp said he recognized the controversy Reno's name
could spark.

"I was really hopeful to avoid any kind of a situation that
would be divisive in nature and I certainly don't think she would
welcome that kind of response either," he said of Reno.

The Mournings said in a statement they were honored to be
considered but that they also support the school being named for
Reno, saying she "has touched many lives." The couple said: "The
work we do in the community is not for recognition.


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